In February 2013, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation published a consultation paper on the regulation of small print consumer contracts (the “Consultation Paper”). The Consultation Paper has been published on foot of a recommendation from the Sales Law Review Group that regulations on print size and related presentational matters in consumer contracts should be introduced, and that the content of such regulations should be determined after a consultation process with business and consumer interests.

The Consultation Paper analyses what is in fact meant by “small print” and comments that it presents a problem in consumer contracts where the font size used impairs legibility. Other key factors when considering small print include the type of lettering used, spacing and layout and the degree of contrast between type and background. The Consultation Paper states that there are two main options for the future legislative regulation of small print in consumer contracts, namely (i) the enactment of an order setting a minimum font size for contracts under section 53 of the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980; or (ii) the enactment of provisions on legibility and intelligibility of consumer contracts in a future, comprehensive consumer rights bill, preparation for which is already under way. It also looks at the approach that has been adopted in other jurisdictions.

Stakeholders were requested to respond to the Consultation Paper, outlining which of the two options they preferred for regulating the use of small print. The consultation process has now closed.